Mono: One Step More And You Die

Arena Rock
One Step More And You Die
Arena Rock

The ratio of existing orchestral post-rock albums to those worth owning roughly works out to 25,000 to one--that one being Canadian outfit Godspeed You! Black Emperor's debut, F#A# (Infinity). That marvelous album has mutated into a nasty beast, spawning a slew of redundant imitators who seized the band's formula (essentially: softsoftsoftsoftLouderLOuder LOUderLOUDERLOUDERLOUDLOUDLOUDsoftersoftersoft) and haven't let go. These copycats all draw water from the same pond, only these days, it's stagnant: They're all too beholden to GY!BE to really stir it up.

But maybe the Japanese are blind to the True Way of Canadian Post-Rock. And so here comes Mono, a quartet of lovely youngsters from Japan who are the post-rock equivalent of Crocodile Dundee. Clueless about salad forks and social graces (Mono to GY!BE: "You call that a riff? THIS is a riff!"), they've come armed with spitballs and whoopee cushions, looking for a party. Their sound certainly isn't enough to revitalize a genre that's deader than newsboy caps, but at least it gives the corpse a few vigorous kicks before strutting away in disgust.

And speaking of kicks, at times One Step More And You Die sorta-kinda-really kicks ass! Like the monstrous second track, "Com(?)," which builds forcefully with layers of guitars and feedback and then runs with them. Okay, so it does follow GY!BE's aforementioned formula, but if it ain't reinventing the wheel, then it's definitely changing the tires. Besides, Mono's swings are harder (you must be this tall to hear this song) than most of those other mooks, so cool it, chump.

One More Step's best tune doesn't truck with any of that dynamic tomfoolery. "Mopish Morning, Halation Wiper" is extraordinarily simple--an ascending and then descending piano riff accompanied by unassuming organ sighs--but it's also a perfect respite from the other tracks' numerous neck-snapping stops and starts. It's the album's most monotonous song--which makes it tops. When overuse renders unexpected explosions of noise blasé, it's the inertia that becomes shocking. New ratio: 25,000 to two.

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